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Tulsa, Texoma designated as tech hubs, opens door for millions in federal grants

Marvin Jones (left) and Rose Washington-Jones (center), take part in the AI red-teaming challenge with Tulsa innovation company Black Tech Street at Def Con in August.
Deepa Shivaram
Marvin Jones (left) and Rose Washington-Jones (center), take part in the AI red-teaming challenge with Tulsa innovation company Black Tech Street at Def Con in August.

Tulsa and the Texoma region are now officially recognized by the federal government as technology hubs — and the local tech sectors are looking at money tied to the designation.

A tech hub is acknowledged by the federal government as a region with a plan to enhance its tech sector and become a global leader over the next decade, according to the Economic Development Administration. The Biden administration announced 31 new Tech Hubs Monday.

After applying for the designation, members of the tech industry in Tulsa and the Texoma region are now eligible for up to $75 million in federal grant money.

Tyrance Billingsley of Black Tech Street said Tulsa’s tech sector was one of 31 regional tech hubs chosen from more than 400.

"Different cities and regions will apply for, essentially, funding to help build out their tech hub, the regional tech hub. So we had to pick specific areas," Billingsley said.

Billingsley and others in Tulsa’s tech sector want to build out systems related to cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and advanced mobility. Stakeholders may be able to meet those goals with the $75 million up for grabs.

Billingsley said they’re still working out the specifics, but they do have a few things in mind.

"Some of our work with Microsoft would be feeded in terms of building a fiber and AI center of excellence for Greenwood and Black Tulsans, but there’s other things about advanced mobility. We’ve had to choose the key focus areas and keep it at a high level for now, but specific details ... will come after we submit," he said.

Oklahoma State University is among 50 partners involved in setting up the designation in Tulsa. In a news release, OSU says it will focus on developing drone technologies in the area.

“This designation solidifies OSU as the premier university for the next generation of aerospace technologies, which will continue to have a meaningful impact on Tulsa, our state and Oklahoma State University," President Kayse Shrum said in a written statement.

The Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub is being led by Southern Methodist University in Dallas. It includes 29 counties across North Central Texas and Southern Oklahoma.

"By deploying a geographically-distributed 'fablet' model—building targeted, accessible labs for electronic design, semiconductor manufacturing, packaging, and testing— the Texoma Semiconductor Tech Hub will foster a consolidated semiconductor innovation ecosystem with supply chain resilience," according to a news release from the White House.

The second round of applications for the tech hubs are due at the end of February.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS.
Robby Korth joined KOSU as its news director in November 2022.
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